Rubicon, “Look to the Ant”

Rubicon has quietly (and I only say quietly because no one is watching anymore) morphed into a damn good series over the last three episodes. There were a few missteps along the way as the series transitioned between showrunners and tried to figure out what the hell it was all about, but since “The Outsider” and Will’s journey to D.C., things have popped.

This episode didn’t absolutely focus on the conspiracy plot’s mechanization, but instead let James Badge Dale run around, acting all twitchy and really sell us on Will’s fear. In a series like this, there needs to be a point where the lead character realizes that he’s too far in and might not be able to get out, and that’s basically what “Look to the Ant” was. Kale surprisingly lets Will know that there are cameras in his apartment, which sends Will into a tizzy: He slowly and intently searches his apartment, does a lot of heavy breathing and nearly reaches his breaking point at the internet cafe. It’s kind of false to see Will react so strongly to this situation because his job and past experiences should have told him that things can get sketchy. But thankfully, James Badge Dale is very good at looking around bug-eyed and seeming short of breath, so I was sold after the scene at Kale’s when Will gets the information.

Speaking of Kale, the series has been very, very smart in the last few episodes by constantly shifting his allegiances, or at least appearing to do so. Last week, it seemed as though he was surely going to be a foil for Will, but this week he is helping Mr. Travers. Of course, there’s a damn good chance that Kale’s allegiances lie somewhere that we are not even aware of yet, but I applaud the writers for keeping us guessing without seeming too unrealistic or stupid. I think I’ve said before that the series has nicely set up this hierarchy at API and in the conspiracy so that people can be playing multiple positions without it seeming too unrealistic. Kale might be lying to Will, but he’s definitely trying to help keep Truxton at bay for some reason.

But again, this week the episode was at its best when it gave us some low-key character moments. Will taking a quick trip to Kale’s home was a great scene, if only for the ability to sneak a peek into the private life of such a questionable dude. As I suspected last week, Kale is a gay and it turns out, he also doesn’t like Hot Chip (though his male companion does). My favorite parts of the episode saw Miles doing some spying on a wedding in Urdu with the cutie Julia he recruited to do some translating. The scenes between them were charming and cute and the series is obviously hinting at a pairing between the two. It was also nice to be reminded that Miles is, in fact, married — even if he clearly doesn’t feel like he should be. It’s the small moments like this that make Rubicon worth watching, even when the conspiracy plot is chugging forward (though it was this week).

Finally, I wanted to comment on the two ladies the series has had trouble writing for. Katherine’s scenes are still disconnected from everything else, but the story is ramping up a bit, with her finding the four-leaf clover and all this week. Miranda Richardson is doing good work in her attempts to convince us that her character is both feeling loss and looking for answers. Maggie, on the other hand, is still a black hole of storytelling. She’s had little to do for weeks and this week, and her glorious return to the story this week was one-note, random and a weak attempt at reminding us that this girl really wants Will Travers. Surely she has a secret, but because I can’t bother with her pointlessness, I don’t really care what it is yet.

What do you folks think about Rubicon thus far?


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